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Why Forsyth County parks won’t serve Coke products anymore
Members of the Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Board approved a new policy for background screenings by a 4-0 vote Wednesday. - photo by File photo

Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Board members discussed next year’s budget and a potential fee increase during a meeting on Wednesday evening.

Members of the board took a look at the 2020 budget, which will have revenues of about $3 million and expenses of about $11 million in 2020 for a shortfall of $8 million, which is offset by funding through Forsyth County's general fund. 

Expenses in 2020 include $3.7 million for parks operations, $2 million for recreation and $1.6 million for athletics, and the largest revenues will come from recreation ($1.1 million) and athletics ($1.2 million).

Some of the projects included in the budget are:

● resurfacing three basketball courts at Fowler Park;

● replacing shade cell at Coal Mountain Park;

● replacing a scoreboard, bleacher and gymnasium LED lighting at the Central Park;

● parking lot improvements at Sawnee Mountain Preserve;

● and replacing a playground at Poole’s Mill Park, which will cost $210,000.

Perhaps the largest debate about the budget surrounded who would provide drinks to the parks, Coca-Cola or Pepsi.

After years of Coke products, Parks and Recreation Director Jim Pryor said the department would be moving to Pepsi.

“We bid out proposals every two years for beverage rights in parks, and they give us a certain lump sum of money, we get a certain percentage off what is purchased and they give us a price list that the concessioners have to buy from,” Pryor said. “We’ve had Coke for a long time, it was just bid out this year and starting in 2020 we’re moving over to Pepsi.”

Pryor said over three-years, the county will get about $97,000 from Pepsi, about $64,000 more than from Coke.

The change will mean products such as Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Monster and Gatorade will be sold at parks.

There was some discussion about scoreboards funded by Coke, as was previously the case, but parks officials said the company no longer sponsored scoreboards.

Though not part of the budget discussion, recreation center fees could increase to more closely match the county’s senior service department.

Pryor said the item was previously approved by the parks board and was headed to the county commissioners before it was removed during an agenda review.

“One of the reasons was that with the addition that we are building onto Central Park Recreation Center, the senior services is going to link up with us and have their headquarters in that building,” he said. “Well, they have a different fee schedule for memberships and use of buildings than parks and recreation has, so they pulled the item and asked us to work with senior services to kind of sync-up the costs.”

He said commissioners had directed the parks and recreation department to have a study done on the fees to determine costs. The basic membership fee to use rec centers is currently $10 for county residents and the previously proposed amount was $15.

“It doesn’t look like we’re going to get it put in place for 2020,” Pryor said.

A future fee for seniors would likely include both uses, though Pryor said he would like to see the fee amount made part of the county’s budget process, rather than through the parks board. Officials said senior service fees were about $60 each year.

Pryor said one reason for the change is the changing interests of seniors.

“The seniors now are active seniors,” he said, “so they don’t want to be sitting in a building playing bridge. They want to be more active.”